by Nancy Nickerson
Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras has taught violin to East Harlem children for 13 years. "I get them revved up, excited about music, and they stay focused," says Guaspari-Tzavaras. So when budget cuts ended her program in 1991, Guaspari-Tzavaras wouldn't take it lying down. She rallied parents and the community. When she and her young students held a benefit concert, Itzhak Perlman joined the standing ovation. The program was able to continue and it also brought her the "Hero for Today" award from the Reader's Digest Association.
Isaac Stern is also a big fan of Guaspari-Tzavaras's dedication and fruitful efforts, but it's her students who really count. "She helps us when we mess up," says nine-year-old Wendy Casteneda. "The violin gives me beautiful music. And I'm an 'A' student because of it. I dream of playing at Lincoln Center someday."
Guaspari-Tzavaras's students have performed with the New York Symphony, the Julliard School's Music Advancement Program and at the White House, so Wendy's dream may just come true.
A documentary film about her called Small Wonders was nominated for an Academy Award in 1996. Further developments inspired by this teacher include a feature film, released in October 1999. Music of the Heart starred Meryl Streep as real-life violin teacher Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras.
Page created on 7/29/2013 3:07:13 PM
Last edited 1/6/2017 9:28:18 PM
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